How to Set Up an Onkyo HT-S3900 Home Theater System
Setting up your own home theater can be incredibly rewarding, and provide an experience close to, and sometimes better than going to the cinema.
This guide will give you the tools and knowledge you need to create the setup at home you've always wanted with the Onkyo HT-S3900, bringing your movie and television experience to the next level.
Like any hobby or job, there's a lot of very technical terms used to describe the various elements of a home theater system. Because of this, this guide cannot be exhaustive, but we'll be focused on a few, common terms you'll be encountering throughout this process.
At first, setting up a home theater can be daunting, but a little careful planning can go a very long way in making it a fun, easy, and rewarding experience.
Write down what you have
To start, make a list of every device you have that you'd like to get connected to your home theater system. While this seems silly at first, it keeps things very organized for later, making this an invaluable step.
It's also helpful if you run into problems. If your Smart TV starts having problems, and you need to call someone for help, moving things around to look behind is a hassle. Simply glancing at a single sheet of paper with everything written down makes it a lot easier.
For each device, you'll want the following information:
- What the device is, its make and model, and the types of connections it uses (both inputs and outputs). You can then highlight the connection you decide to use within your setup. For example:
- Device #1
Type A/V Receiver Make/Model Yamaha RX-V683BL Input Connection(s) HDMI, RCA, Optical Output Connection(s) HDMI, RCA, Speakers
- Device #2
Type TV Make/Model Samsung
Input Connection(s) HDMI Output Connection(s) Optical
- Device #3
Type Blu-Ray Player Make/Model Panasonic
Input Connection(s) None Output Connection(s) HDMI
- Device #4
Type Game Console Make/Model Nintendo Switch Input Connection(s) None Output Connection(s) HDMI
- Device #5
Type Record Player Make/Model Audio-Technica
Input Connection(s) None Output Connection(s) RCA
- Device #6
Type Cable Box Make/Model Arris XG1v3 Input Connection(s) Coaxial Output Connection(s) HDMI
- Device #1
This lets you easily take stock of what you have, determine the number and types of cables you'll need, decide what is going where when it's time to connect everything, and generally organize your setup.
Draw a diagram
While this, too, can seem silly at first, it is key to understanding how everything connects. The best installers at movie theaters all have a 'map' drawn up simply showing where each part is, where it goes, and how it connects. When it comes to troubleshooting, adding a new device, or taking one away later, this will be the single most helpful document you have.
It can be as simple or as complex as you feel you need. In most cases, for a home theater, a simple diagram with your receiver in the center, and each device around it with colored, labeled lines indicating the type of connection used, arrows for inputs and outputs, and speakers involved is more than adequate.
3 Power Requirements
While you simply need to power every device in your home theater setup, thinking about how to protect your investment from power surges is also something to consider.
This is an area where a little planning goes a very long way:
- How many devices will you be connecting?
- If you have six total devices, a small four plug power strip will not suffice.
- Will you want to expand and add more devices later?
- Most people will end up adding to and expanding with more devices in the future. You'll want to have extra outlets available to accommodate your future needs.
- Do you want an easy way to turn on and off your whole setup?
- Some power delivery devices will have front-facing power switches, or readouts for how power delivery is happening.
- What shape of plugs do you have?
- While most devices have moved away from the large, boxy AC to DC adapters that stick out of the wall or hang off the socket, they can still pose a problem. Depending on the type of power delivery accessory you choose, these types of plugs might interfere with neighboring outlets. Some power delivery device manufacturers have taken this into account, and rotated the plugs to make it less of an issue.
All power delivery devices wear out over time. Some may wear out more slowly, but expect to have to replace this part of your system every couple of years to avoid problems.
Different types of Power Protection
There are 3 different types of power distribution and protection devices.
It can be extremely dangerous to connect one power delivery device to another, or 'daisy-chain' them. Always plug these devices directly into a wall outlet, and not into another power delivery device.
- Very low cost.
- Minimal, if any, protection. Most power surges are just passed through to your equipment which can damage or ultimately destroy them. Some models have a small fuse in them which is destroyed when a particularly strong surge occurs.
- Average cost.
- Provides decent protection to your devices. Some of these types tend to offer some extra protection as well for cable lines or networking lines. Many come with simple warranties that protect against power surge damage should your devices incur any while connected to one of these.
- Very high cost.
- Provides not only decent protection, but also 'conditions' the power, so there's little if any noise or power fluctuations introduced to your equipment. While subjective and very dependent on what is coming to your equipment in the first place, some people feel it can help with picture and sound quality.
- These tend to be aesthetically pleasing, and integrate well with modern home theater and surround sound setups.
4 Speaker Setup
Most speakers will use very standard, simple 2-wire cables to connect them to your receiver.
- Speaker wire has a polarity. In other words, it matters which side plugs in where. Most speaker wire will already be in a bundle of 2, and one of the cables will be a different color, or have a stripe of color or a label of some sort so you can identify them easily.
- You will need one 'run' of cable (both wires) for each speaker. Make sure it is long enough to not only reach, but follow the contours of your room, and some extra for slack. This keeps them from being accidentally pulled out.
- Depending on the model of the receiver you are using, the type of terminal you will plug your speaker wire into may vary.
- Many receivers and speakers may allow for you to use something called banana plugs, which can be attached to the speaker wires before plugging them in to give a cleaner, easier to use, and more permanent solution for connecting your speakers to your receiver.
5 Speaker Connection
- Connect each speaker to your receiver. Pay close attention to positive and negative markings on each speaker wire, as not all speaker wire is color coded like the speaker inputs are on your receiver.
- Depending on the type of speaker terminals your receiver has, insert the wires following the illustration below.
- Connect your subwoofer. This tends to be a single RCA-style cable.
6 Display Connection
- In most cases, most people prefer to use the simple, excellent HDMI connection between their home theater receiver and their TV. Plug one end into the back of your TV.
TVs have multiple HDMI ports. Since your receiver will now be handling all component switching, there will only need to be one HDMI cable plugged into your television. Just use the HDMI 1 port on the back of your TV.
- Connect the other end of the cable to your receiver. You're looking for something labeled HDMI Out; it's usually a different color.
- If necessary, connect a digital optical cable to the back of your TV (optical out), and the other end to your receiver (optical in).
Connecting a digital optical cable from your TV to your receiver is only necessary if you have a Smart TV with apps that you would like to make use of. Your TV will need a way to get that audio to the receiver to be heard through the speakers connected to it. If you do not have a Smart TV, or do not plan on using your Smart TV's apps in favor of another device, this cable is unnecessary.
7 Coax Connections
- Connect the coax cable from your premium television provider to your cable or satellite decoder.
- If you're using one, connect the coax cable from your outdoor antenna to the back of your TV (for over-the-air TV signal).
- If you're using one, connect the coax cable from your outdoor antenna to your receiver for FM radio signals.
- If you're using one, connect the simple 2-wire lead for your AM antenna to your receiver for AM radio signals.
8 Source Connection
- Connect each of your sources (Blu-ray, cable box, game console, etc.) to the appropriate connector on the back of your receiver. Many connectors will have labels to guide you.
Please be aware that the labels on the HDMI ports of your receiver are only a guide. These ports can accept any type of HDMI device being plugged into them and can easily be renamed within your receiver's settings.
For example, a port labeled "BD/DVD" or "GAME" does not indicate that this is the only type of device it can accept.
9 Power Connection
- The Onkyo HT-S3900 has a non-removable power cable attached to the rear. Connect this to your power management device.
- Connect power for all your other devices to your power management device as well.
10 Test Devices
- Turn on your home theater devices, and test them out.
- Make sure you can watch premium TV.
- Make sure you can watch a Blu-ray movie.
- Make sure your game console works.
- Make sure any audio devices, such as a record player, work.
- Make sure the speakers are in the correct locations.
- Test any other device you have setup as part of your home theater.
It is critical to perform this step before moving forward, as we will be cleaning up the cables behind, next. After this, while it is entirely possible to make changes, it is a much greater hassle.
11 Cable Management
We can now begin bundling together and making the cables behind your system neat and tidy.
You can use one, or multiple different methods to give the look, and accessibility you want to the wiring of your home theater system.
Cable bundling will most likely be the first step in cleaning up the cables from your home theater installation.
Leave slack at your bundle points.
Do not tighten down any strap too much, you want some give and movement in case something shifts, and you don't want to accidentally cut, bend, crimp, or otherwise damage your cables.
Small, sticky pads to attach your bundles to. Some come built into various straps or ties, some are reusable, such as adhesive putty.
Do not bundle power cables with any other cables.
Power, by its very nature, creates an electromagnetic field when flowing through a cable. This can severely degrade quality for other cables they are bundled with, especially speaker wire. It's best to keep these as far away from other cables as possible, in their own bundle, for example.
During your bundling process, it's often a good idea to use small labels near the ends of each cable, just in case you need to disconnect something in the future. You can use a label printer to make these, but a small strip of masking tape works just as well.
For example, on your Blu-ray player's HDMI cable, a little loop of tape saying "Blu-ray" where it connects to your Blu-ray player, and where it connects to the receiver, can help you immensely should you replace the player, or the receiver, somewhere down the line. Likewise for power cables.
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